Ford Motor Co signs agreements with ioneer and Rio Tinto
Ford Motor Co. has signed agreements with Rio Tinto and ioneer to establish a more sustainable supply chain for battery and low-carbon materials and to secure a steady supply of lithium. On July 21, the automaker announced that it has signed a nonbinding global memorandum of understanding to jointly develop a more sustainable supply chain with Rio Tinto.
The multimaterials partnership will support the transition toward a net-zero future by supplying Ford, one of the world’s largest automakers, with materials including lithium, low-carbon aluminium and copper. It will allow Rio Tinto, a leading global mining and metals company, to progress its commitment to work with customers to decarbonize value chains.
The company also announced a binding agreement with ioneer in which ioneer will supply Ford with lithium carbonate from its Rhyolite Ridge lithium-boron project in Nevada.
Under the agreement, ioneer will deliver 7 kt/a (7,700 stpy) of lithium carbonate to Ford over a five-year term, starting in 2025. Ford intends to utilize ioneer’s lithium carbonate to produce batteries for use in Ford electric vehicles through BlueOval SK, the Ford-SK battery-manufacturing joint venture.
Under the agreement with Rio Tinto, Ford will explore becoming the foundation customer for Rio Tinto’s Rincon lithium project in Argentina. Rio Tinto is currently progressing detailed planning to bring Rincon into production and will work with Ford toward a significant lithium off-take agreement to support its production of electric vehicles.
The companies will work together to strengthen the supply of low carbon aluminium for use in Ford vehicles, including metal produced using the zero carbon ELYSIS smelting technology, and from Rio Tinto’s hydropowered operations in Canada, helping Ford meet its commitment to the First Mover’s Coalition.
Ford and Rio Tinto will also work to develop secure, domestic supply chains for Ford across other essential commodities for the energy transition from Rio Tinto’s operations in North America, including copper produced with a low-carbon footprint.
“We are excited to work with Ford to support the transition to net zero by supplying a range of materials it needs for electric and lower-carbon vehicles, and advance our commitment to work with customers to decarbonize our value chains,” Rio Tinto’s chief commercial officer Alf Barrios said in a statement. “Rio Tinto is uniquely positioned to work with companies like Ford to develop more sustainable, traceable and secure supply chains. We are investing to grow in materials needed for the energy transition, and in technology and partnerships to decarbonize our business and value chains.
We welcome the opportunity to strengthen our long term relationship with Ford to support its sustainability goals.”
The MOU builds on Ford’s relationship with Rio Tinto as a primary aluminium raw material source for its iconic F-150, the world’s first all aluminium body pick-up truck. The high-strength aluminium alloys used in the Ford F-150 help improve performance and save weight, helping it to tow heavier loads, accelerate quicker and reduce stopping distances. Now, the companies will work together exploring what’s possible in the energy transition with models like Ford’s next-generational full-size electric truck.
Ford Chief Industrial Platform officer Hau Thai-Tang said: “This is a powerful example of how Ford’s proven scale and industrial expertise can be leveraged to accelerate the shift to EVs. We’re applying years of shared knowledge and a strong relationship to support production of models customers already know and love – and potentially to help create a new generation of EVs for millions of customers.”